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Caulking A Tile Backsplash

 
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Old 12-02-2006, 09:54 PM   #1
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Caulking A Tile Backsplash


When the tile backsplash meets the counter surface, regardless if the counter is laminate, solid surface , granite or engineered quartz, I always get call backs for caulk cracking or separation.

It doesn't seem to matter if we use latex , silicone, sanded or unsanded caulk. Inevitably we get a call 2-3 mo after completion and have to go back and re caulk.

Typically we would set the first row of tile directly on the counter surface and caulk after grouting. However, the last one we did, I held the tile up 1/8" from the horizontal surface thinking a heavier bead under the tile would give more staying power. So far , it's been 2 mo and no calls.

I have explained this to several tile setters and their reply was " it's the nature of the beast, you always have to re caulk."

Just wondering if anyone else has this problem, and what solutions you may have to offer.
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:52 PM   #2
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Re: Caulking A Tile Backsplash


How do you prep your surfaces? We clean with acetone and denatured alcohol then dry wipe.

Use the best caulk. Some of what we use is $11 - 13 a tube, cheap compared to a call-back.

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Old 12-02-2006, 11:08 PM   #3
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Re: Caulking A Tile Backsplash


Yes, we always clean w/ denatured alcohol . The caulking is usually color matched to the grout from the tile distributor and it is latex, either sanded or unsanded. It is pretty pricey caulk , about $ 15.00 a tube. Not sure of the brand name though.

Funny thing is, when we do showers be it a tile base or swanstone receptor I never encounter this problem. Only counter tops.
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:17 AM   #4
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Re: Caulking A Tile Backsplash


I set the splash tiles first, with bottom edge directly on the substrate. If one needs raising to maintain level line I make sure the gap is filled with thin set. Then I apply the counter tiles. When grouting the counter/ splash joint I take my finger and drag out the grout to below the finish level I am wanting. When finished, clean the area and apply clear silicone caulking. This allows the grout color to show through. I have been doing this for the last 2 years and as of yet, no callbacks to any of my homes. (knock on wood)
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Old 12-03-2006, 02:32 AM   #5
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Re: Caulking A Tile Backsplash


I've always set a backsplash with a groutline width off the surface of the counter top, usually 1/8. Two things that can be effecting you - 1 could be that the walls are outside walls and expand and contract more than an inside wall. Have you ever notice if there is a difference between inside and outside walls and having to recaulk?

The second thing I have found is we use only latex, water clean up color matched caulks, and the wetter the sponge is during tooling and clean up of the caulk line the more tendency to have to touch up later. The dryer that sponge is the less shrinkage or something there seems to be down the road. I think the water gets introduced to the caulk and evaporates later or changes the performance of the caulk.

I've never purchased a $15 tube of caulk. I think Tec and C-cures are like $7.00.

Another thing that seems to help is grouting that joint first, creating a sort of backer rod effect, not completely filling the joint but creating a starved joint and then caulking over the starved grout joint. Some people are strongly against this, but I have seen very good results long term doing this.
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:50 PM   #6
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Re: Caulking A Tile Backsplash


Luck! It is all about expansion and contraction. It depends on how well your house is insulated and how much moisture is in the interior. Different materials expand at different rates. If you have a joint that doesn't crack it is not because you did anything right, you just got lucky to remodel a kitchen that is exposed to ideal conditions. The best caulk to use is an expandable color matched caulk and just keep your fingers crossed.

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